Page images

care to serve the statesman who was in the ascendant. Now he was Harley, now Godolphin, then Harley again, next the Whigs on the accession of George I. Harley having ceased to be in power was valueless as a paymaster to the pamphleteer. But the fallen statesman, good-natured, slow to exert himself, troubled no more about one for whom he had now no purpose, and was content with such friendship as came to him. For Harley in his retirement, though he retained the affection of his family and friends, retained also his old indolent way of not answering letters which he received. Swift's regard for him had not lessened with his lessened power. It has been suggested * that Harley, in obtaining only the Deanery of St. Patrick's for him in 1713 as a reward for his services, had shown ingratitude to his ablest literary assistant. He did the best he could, and Swift was grateful, if not satisfied. If he had considered that Harley had neglected his interests, had not endeavoured to give a due return for services received, Swift was the last man in the world to dissemble. But for friendly feeling and kindly raillery it would not be easy to match a letter which Harley received from him in 1723 :

November 6. Dublin.-Bussy Rabutin in his exile of twenty years writ every year a letter to the King, only to keep himself in memory, but never received an answer. This hath been my fortune, and yet I love you better than ever I did, and I believe you do not love me worse. I ever gave great allowance to the laziness of your temper in the article of writing letters, but I cannot pardon your forgetfulness in sending me your picture. If you were still a first minister, I would hardly excuse your promise of nine years; I will be revenged, I will put Lord Harley, nay I will put Lady Harriett, upon you. Mr. Minet hath sometimes made me uneasy with his accounts of your health : but he and the public papers being silent in that particular, I am in hopes it is established again. I am recovering mine by riding in hopes to get enough one summer to attend you at Brampton Castle, for I have a thousand things to say to you in relation to somewhat " quod et hunc in annum vivat et plures." Be so kind in two lines to invite me to your house. You asked me once when you governed Europe whether I was ashamed of your company; I ask you now whether you are ashamed of mine. It is vexatious that I, who never made court to you in your greatness, nor ask anything from you, should be now perpetually teasing for a letter and a picture. While you were Treasurer you never refused me when I solicited for others;

the "Swift was vexed at the vacillation, at the strain which a return 80 much under his deserts had called for. The picture of timidity, shuffling, and ingratitude on the part of Oxford is not a pleasant one. (Craik's · Life of Swift,' p. 261.)

why in your retirement will you always refuse me when I solicit for myself? I want some friend like myself near you to put you out of your play. In my conscience I think that you who were the humblest of men in the height of power are grown proud by adversity, which I confess you have borne in such a manner that if there be any reason why a mortal should be proud, you have it all on your side. But I, who am one of those few who never flattered or deceived you, when you were in a station to be flattered and deceived, can allow no change of conduct with regard to myself, and I expect as good treatment from you as if you were still first minister. Pray, my Lord, forgive me this idle way of talk, which you know was always my talent, and yet I am very serious in it, and expect you will believe me, and write to me soon, and comply with everything I desire. It is destined that you should have great obligations to me, for who else knows how to deliver you down to posterity, though I leave you behind me? Therefore make your court and use me well, for I am to be bribed though you never were. I pray God preserve you and your illustrious family (for I hope that title is not confined to “Germanes"), and that you may live to save your country a second time.' (Harley Papers, vol. iii. p. 636.) In much the same terms, but in a more serious vein, Swift had written a year before. But he was not to see Harley again: the statesman, in one of his short visits to London, died at his house in Albemarle Street on May 21, 1724. His death brought another letter from Swift to the new earl, touching in the firmness of its friendship and interesting from what it tells of a literary enterprise contemplated by Swift but never executed :

*1724, July 9th. Dublin.—Although I had for two years past inured myself to expect the death of my Lord your father, from the frequent accounts I received of the bad condition of his health, yet the news of it struck me so sensibly that I had not spirit enough to condole with your Lordship as I ought to have done for so great a loss to the world and to yourself. It is true indeed, you no longer wanted his care and tenderness, nor his example to incite you to virtue, but his friendship and conversation you will ever want, because they are qualities so rare in the world, and in which he so much excelled all others. It hath pleased me in the midst of my grief to hear that he preserved the greatness and calmness and intrepidity of his mind to his last minutes, for it was fit that such a life should terminate with equal lustre to the whole progress of it.

I must now beg leave to apply to your Lordship's justice. He was often pleased to promise me his picture, but his troubles, and sickness, and want of opportunity, and my absence prevented him. I do therefore humbly insist, that your Lordship will please to discharge what I almost look upon as a legacy.

'I would entreat another and much greater favour of your Lordship, that at your leisure hours you would please to inspect among your father's papers whether there be any memorials that may be of use towards writing his life, which I have sometimes mentioned to him, and often thought on when I little expected to survive him. I have formerly gathered several hints, but want many materials, especially of his more early times, which might be easily supplied. And such a work most properly belongs to me, who loved and respected him above all men, and had the honour to know him better than any other of my level did.' (Harley Papers, vol. iii. p. 639.)

It is agreeable to leave Harley thus linked to the last with Swift. Their common esteem is the best testimony of their private worth. There was ever in Swift the constant heart and the independent spirit, in Harley the recognition of genius, of bold and invaluable service, and of appreciative friendship. It is much in Harley's favour that he bore the searching vision of Swift, and that the judgment of this keen observer was in his favour. Certainly Harley was not a great statesman, but he was courageous, patient, and persevering. He more resembles a Liberal of the first half of the nineteenth century than any of his contemporaries. He was a friend of civil and religious freedom: it is true he supported the Occasional Conformity Bill, but so did the Whig party, and the measure while it lasted did not prevent, as Harley probably foresaw, the Nonconformists from taking part in local government. He would not support the more harmful and intolerant Schism Bill, though he had not the courage to oppose it. Sprung from the landed gentry and a landowner himself, and thus understanding the wants and the wishes of the rural population, he was yet in sympathy with traders and merchants, and himself occupied the first place in the most important commercial corporation of the age. Throughout his political life he was earnestly in favour of peace, of national economy, and of financial purity. No enemy, however bitter, ever said a word against Harley's uprightness in regard to money matters, whether public or private. This was something to be proud of when public men could and did secretly enrich themselves at the cost of the nation. He happened to belong to an age when blame and praise were both meted out with exaggeration. Pope's laudation of Harley's philosophic tranquillity in the calm sunset of thy various - day' is as much too lavish as Bolingbroke's depreciatory damnation is unjust.

• A soul supreme, in each hard instance try'd,
Above all pain, and passion, and all pride ;
The rage of power, the blast of public breath,
The lust of lucre, and the dread of death.'

These fine lines—which we must remember were written as a dedication in an edition of Parnell's poems to the late Lord Treasurer and with a view of obtaining his interest in the publication-are hardly warranted in the case of a statesman with a body and mind wearied by toilsome and anxious political life, much of which had been of an extremely unheroic description, and who could be no longer of use to the country. With a love of books and literature, a happy family, abundant means, country tastes, a high position, a phlegmatic temperament, there was little virtue in enjoying an easy life among the pleasant country scenes of Herefordshire.

Had Harley lived in an age of higher political morality history might have accounted him a laborious and successful statesman, consistent in his conduct and moral in his methods. Living when he did, indefatigable industry and perseverance in a single career, fair abilities, some liking for business, remarkable tact, and an unusual gift for perceiving the drift of parliamentary and public opinion, with the assistance derived from the reputation of his family and from local position, enabled him to reach the highest political place. But a Whig by opinion and temperament, it was his misfortune to become the head of a Tory ministry; he lacked the strength of character and the intellectual power after the Treaty of Utrecht either to modify his ministry so as to bring it into harmony with his own opinions or to break away from it altogether. And yet, whether he intended it or not, at the very time and by action unfortunate for himself he was doing England a service. He prevented Bolingbroke and the Tories who would have acted with him from carrying out a policy which would probably have resulted either in the return of the Stuarts or in civil war. He so temporised with his colleagues and with the Pretender that these plans were deferred, and the Elector succeeded peacefully to the throne, and so, whether Harley clung to his place genuinely desirous to assist the Hanoverian succession or for the sake of temporary power, the result was the same. Not only did he find himself permanently excluded from office, but he became, as Bolingbroke said with bitter truth, the <object of the derision of the Whigs and of the indignation

of the Tories.' He intended-after his lights—to be patriotic and consistent, yet it has been his misfortune that history has dwelt more on his defects and on actions resulting from the manner of the age than on the sterling qualities which he certainly possessed and on the unobtrusive services which he rendered to his country.

ART. VIII.-1. America's Working People. By CHARLES B.

SPAHR. London: Longmans, 1900. 2. L'Ouvrier Américain. Par E. LEVASSEUR, Membre de

l'Institut, Professeur au Collège de France et au Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers. Paris : Librairie de la Société du Recueil Général des Lois et des Arrêts et du

Journal du Palais, 1898. 3. The American Workman, being a translation of the above.

By Thomas S. ADAMS, Ph.D. Edited by THEODORE MARBURG, Baltimore. Johns Hopkins Press, 1900. 4. American Engineering Competition. The · Times,' 1900. 5. Bulletins of the Department of Labour. Washington. TT is somewhat strange that precisely at the period when

the long political estrangement between the two great separated branches of the Anglo-Saxon race appears to be giving way to the realisation of fundamental kinship, there should be waking a sense of imminent and critical rivalry between them in the sphere of commerce and industry. That the fact is so there can be no doubt, or that while, across the Atlantic, the prospect of the struggle is contemplated with confidence and even exhilaration, here very inany of the best informed regard it with serious misgivings. Figures bearing on the relative growth or decline of British and American exports and total production are, of course, available, and are eminently deserving of examination ; but it is not so much the study of statistics which have to be sought as the accumulation of facts which could not be ignored that has served to produce a somewhat widespread uneasiness. Thus, the benefit which the Great Eastern Railway Company found in placing a large order for rails and fish-plates in the United States might conceivably have some special explanation. But, when it was taken in connexion with the fact that an important, or even decisive, part was taken by the introduction of cheaper American wrought iron in pulling down the high prices of the British article in the Birmingham district last autumn, before there had been any appreciable reduction in the cost of fuel, which had raised them, no reasonable opportunity remained of evading the natural conclusion as to the existence of relatively advantageous conditions of iron-working in the States. And, if any doubt on that subject had survived, it would have received its coup de gráce from a consideration of the

« PreviousContinue »